Taubman, A. Alfred

Taubman, A. Alfred

(1925–  ) real estate developer, auction house owner, art collector; born in Pontiac, Mich. He attended the University of Michigan and the Lawrence Institute of Technology (Mich.), where he studied architecture. In 1951 he formed his own company in Oak Park, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, and concentrated on commercial construction; by the late 1940s he moved into designing and building retail stores and "strip" malls. In 1964 he opened his first major shopping center, Southland, in Hayward, Calif., and in the ensuing years he built a vast empire of shopping malls. With this as his financial base, he branched out to acquire a restaurant chain (A&W), a broadcast network (the Broadcast Group), a department store chain (Woodward & Lathrop), even a football team (the Michigan Panthers of the U.S. Football League). His most publicized acquisition was the 1983 purchase of Sotheby Parke Bernet, the great London-based art auction house; although many English people spoke as though the barbarians had finally toppled British civilization—the flamboyant Taubman was known to work out daily in his own gym with a prizefighter—he was in fact a serious art collector and art museum trustee who had the best interests of the firm at heart. In 1988 and 1992 he sold off large parts of his share in the firm, just as he also (1992) took his shopping mall company public.